The first man to ever fly a rocket pack, “Fusion Man” launched this morning in an attempt to be the first man ever to fly the straight of Gibraltar using only a back mounted jet pack. Yvess Rossy, the fifty year old adventurer. “It is going to be historic,” the rocket-man said as he prepared to make his journey into fame on the wings of a specially designed jet pack.
The vehicle he used was a four cylinder carbon jet pack combined with wings spanning eight feet in diameter from his shoulders. He prepared for the fifteen minute journey with some last minute calculations, looking over weather information as well as forecasts for the time he was to jump. The Straight of Gibraltar separates Spain from Morocco by almost eight miles at its narrowest point.
Rocket packs, while dreamed about in science fiction since the 1920’s didn’t actually begin development until World War II, and didn’t gain mainstream popularity until the 1960’s. Though Jet Pack technology has improved significantly since its first invention, the main problems developers are running into are the physical characteristics of the human body, which are designed for walking and not for flying. This hasn’t stopped many, however, from reaching for the sky without the assistance of a vehicle to sit in. The jet pack is considered safe when used by trained professionals and hobbyists, but fairly complicated, particularly when it comes time for the prospective rocket-man to land. Perhaps it is the desire man has always felt to fly that has inspired so many to revel in the excitement of Mr. Rossy as he planned to make his flight across the Straight of Gibraltar.
As Rossy propelled himself from a small plane carrying him along the Moroccan coast of Tangier hopes were high as he began at a height of around 6,500 feet. Cameras followed the rocket man as he took on his fifteen minute flight aided both by shoulder mounted wings and by rockets from his back. Rossy had almost reached the coast to make history when he made the decision to cut his engines and begin the silent coast onto the other shore. Then, suddenly, something went wrong. Rossy cut his engines and plunged into the sea. Rescuers scrambled to pull him from the water.
As Rossy was pulled from the sea by a rescue helicopter standing by, rescuers pulled him up and found him unhurt. Still, because of the potentially traumatic nature of the accident he was taken to a hospital as a precautionary measure to ensure his health and ability to try again in the future.
“The good news is that he’s fine,” Stuart Sterzel said to reporters huddling around to hear news of the daredevil’s accident, “He gave the thumbs up sign through the door to the helicopter.” Traditionally the thumbs up is the universal “okay” sign given by stuntmen who have undergone an accident but are hopeful of a speedy recovery.
Though Rossy did not make it to the opposite shore, his trailblazer spirit certainly put the spark back into the jet pack personal propulsion system. Perhaps one day, jet pack enthusiasts hope, journeys such as Rossy’s could become routine as jet pack systems get more and more advanced.